Category Archives: Accountability

toxic leadership

The #metoo movement continues to change our national discourse as we observe the various levels of behavior that are called out. How bad was it? How would we view it if/when it happens in our own organizations? >

Psychological Safety

Have you ever evaluated the level of psychological safety in your team?

Is it okay to challenge the status quo? Can people discuss behaviors that bother them? Is it acceptable to challenge a supervisor when they don’t show up on time or blame a subordinate when they forgot to do something? >

Do you have a New Supervisor Playbook?

Do you have a new supervisor playbook that you use when you promote or hire for supervisory positions? Are you finding that you make assumptions of how people will be with each other and then it doesn’t go as you expected? Do you find you have to spell out a lot more about people’s communication practices than you think you should have to?

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Accountable=uncomfortable

Do you find that holding people accountable makes you uncomfortable? Oh, you start out fired up to hold people to their commitments. You ask clearly. You get them to restate the request. You set a date and time for completion…..and then they don’t come through.

Wait, you did everything you were supposed to do, now what? First of all, congratulations! Most people don’t create such excellent and clear accountability. You are probably really upset, angry or dismissive of that other person right about now. And, may I suggest uncomfortable with taking the next step.

Why is that ?  Do you see it as you will have to become “the enforcer” or the “bad guy”. Do you begin to doubt your right to get what you asked for?

This is the tricky part. Mike Scott* says this is the time when you don’t ask why – Don’t ask why they didn’t do it. Ask them to identify their next step. Ask for a recommitment with a new time/date. Further, you ask:  “Can I count on you for that?” That puts it back on the other person. Okay, how uncomfortable will it be to ask?

Let me guess you might be squirming all over the place thinking about asking for a commitment. Why? You are totally committed. Perhaps because in our society, we don’t like people who call us out, who make us look bad. We know the likable person is the one who lets it go. And, maybe, subconsciously, we want to be liked. In business, we can’t excel if we don’t do the hard stuff. That includes being uncomfortable in service of our mission.

So, think about your mission. You really want to succeed. Completing this request is part of it. In the context of serving the mission, you may find you are okay with having the difficult conversations needed to hold people accountable. You might want to repeat the goal to them as you ask for the renewed commitment. Don’t make it punitive, don’t make it personal, make it about the mission. You can do this.

This week initiate one difficult conversation about accountability that you have been putting off having. Work through the discomfort. It will be easier next time.

*Mike Scott

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Image courtesy of Performance Based Results. Survey done by HBR

Reevaluating Priorities

How often do you throw all your cards up in the air and re-sort them in a new order? I’m going through that right now. Due to a much increased work load (all good) I’m rethinking where I put my time and attention. Obligations, burdens, previously fun stuff, the “of course I’ll do that” responses, are all being put under the microscope as part of reevaluating priorities.

How often do you go through this exercise? I’m hearing a lot of discussion about this from friends and colleagues who are struggling with children’s needs, having their last kid leave for college, coping with their health or a loved one’s health….. It seems that when big things change in our lives, we are forced to reevaluate priorities. I’m also hearing this in subtler ways. Whispers about the amount of stress, the traffic, the joy in living becoming strained, no time for little moments, spouses being neglected.

In a business, this comes up most often as too many meetings, too many emails, hours that are too long and not creative or productive. We don’t get out of this without some rethinking.

In order to rethink, I have to start from the big picture: What do I want? Where do I want to be in 3 years? What will I have to give up to get to the big goals? What do I have to put in place especially new habits, better processes, clearer focus to get what I want.

Barbara Bush was quoted this week as saying: “You have two choices in life; you can either like what you do or dislike what you do. I have chosen to like what I do.” It may not be that easy for most of us. But it is worth considering.

How can you set yourself up for a great week? What activities do you need to delegate or push off to stay focused on the big picture?

 

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Deep Work

How much time do you spend each week on deep work – the most important projects you must complete to stand out in your position? For many of us, we have trouble getting even an hour. But, when you do make progress on a significant accomplishment, don’t you feel great? >

Just make a decision

While I was speaking with an executive this week, he complained that his team regularly asks him to make decisions for them. He doesn’t want to do that. He has a process. He asks them to:

  1. name the three best alternatives they have considered.
  2. explain their thinking.
  3. tell him which one they think is the best.

Usually, they can say which one is the best. And? They still don’t do it.

Why is that? One of the most important things an executive has to do is make decisions. Make many decisions. We assume that making decisions is something that distinguishes leaders. Still, we have no training in making decisions other than the school of hard knocks. So, as we promote our way to being executives, we come up with templates like T squares with one side for pros and one side for cons. Then we weigh the items on each side and see which has the higher value. Or we analyze the probability of success and failure for each option. All good ways to get to a decision.

In Vistage, we talk about making better decisions. We dig down into the emotions behind each choice. We dig into the assumptions of why that choice is a good one. We examine the beliefs behind the choices. You must get down to the beliefs that are keeping you from making a decision. You will not change your behavior unless the beliefs they are based on change.

Let me make it easier: Look at the cost in time and hours of not making a decision.  The higher the cost, the more you need to make a decision. Even a relatively safe decision that you think has an 80% probability of success still has a 20% chance of failure. Sometimes, you just have to take a risk.If you are still struggling, a good question to ask is “by when should this decision be made?” If you have a month, you can put it aside and let your subconscious noodle it around. If it should have been yesterday, or a year ago you can’t put it aside.

The nasty bottom line is that even the best decisions may result in failure. Don’t let desire for perfection keep you from making the decision. Give it your best shot and move on.

What is one decision that you have been putting off? Get to it this week!

 

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Applying business planning to personal goal planning

Frustrated with my lack of progress in losing the weight I’ve gained over the last 3 years, I decided I had to apply business planning to personal goal planning. And, I had to make it a game that I wanted to win. That would require a longed-for goal, a reward for achieving it, regular measurement, daily practice and small awards along the way. >